More Couples Sleeping Apart

In middle and older age, many people are plagued by sleep disturbances; women often report nocturnal insomnia or hot flashes and men may need to visit the bathroom during the night or wear a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to treat sleep apnea.  All these disruptions can take a toll on sleep quality in the happiest of marriages, and more couples are taking up separate bedrooms, not because they aren’t having sex but because they value a good night’s sleep more than they worry about any stigma sleeping apart may carry. 

According to a recent Health report in the Washingtonian, “sleep divorce” is becoming more common among couples in the United States.  According to a recent survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 12 percent of married couples have separate beds and 31 percent of 3,000 study participants said they wished they could uncouple at night from the matrimonial bed.   In fact, some upscale new homes are boasting a new amenity; dual master bedrooms for couples that prefer to sleep separately.  In housing developments targeted for the over-55 community, a second “snore” room is becoming common for older couples who may need to sleep separately some or all of the time for various reasons. 

Better Sleep Council research found that Americans crave sleep more than sex and sleep deprivation can contribute to health problems as well as difficulty at work and in relationships.  Although many don’t admit to it, nearly 1 in 4 couples sleep in separate bedrooms or beds.  But slowly, the idea of couples sleeping apart as unhealthy for their relationship is beginning to change.  However, new technology; adjustable beds and mattresses and improved bedding materials may allow couples who want to sleep together to be more comfortable and able to get a restful night’s sleep. 

While sleeping together as a couple may be cozy and comforting, sleeping apart may actually help improve the relationship between spouses who grow increasingly irritated by snoring, tossing and turning or getting up repeatedly throughout the night.  Many couples aren’t aligned in their sleep routine, a night owl and an early bird may not synch well.  Historically, wealthy couples often had separate beds and dressing rooms and in the 1950’s and ’60s separate twin beds in a couple’s room were very common.   How and where you sleep is a matter of personal preference.  And after a few more restful nights of sleep, romance and intimacy might be on the table more often rather than less.